Cambodia + Vietnam + Laos 21days - 20nights
21days - 20nights
This is the quintessential Mekong tour – a fantastically well-organized 21-day romp through Indochina taking in the exotic sights of Vientiane...
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Day 1: Siem Reap Arrival (/D)
On arrival at Siem Riep Airport, you are met and transferred to hotel. The town of Siem Reap is our base for visiting the world famous temples of the ancient city Angkor, which was the capital of the powerful Khmer Empire from 802 AD to 1350 AD. After checking into hotel, we drive to the archeological area to visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, the impressive Bayon Temple, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King.
The largest as well as most complete structure of Angkor Wat is not to be missed. We stroll around this massive monument, exploring the many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards and ponds full of water reflecting the towering temple.
O/N in Siem Reap.
Day 2: Siem Reap - Angkor Temples (B/L/)
The jungle covered temple of Ta Prohm is an incredible sight. There are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which embrace themselves in the stone foundations of the structure giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. We explore this masterpiece as well as some of the surrounding temples including Banteay Kdei, Sra Srong, Ta Keo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevado. The grand circuit with Preah Khan, Kravan, Neak Pean, Krol Ko, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup Temples, is also visited this afternoon before we walk up to Phnom Bakheng Hill for a view of the spectacular sunset over these sandstone monuments.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 3: Siem Reap - Angkor Temples - Banteay Srei (B/L/)
Upon leaving the town we set off on a drive past Preah Dark village to the intricately carved and well preserved temple of Banteay Srei. After seeing this beautiful landmark we continue driving through the rugged mountain scenery to Kbal Soean, known as the River of 1000 Lingas. A view over the riverbed carvings is impressive. The next stop of our trip is the Banteay Samre Temple, which is adorned with impressive reliefs depicting scenes of Vishnu as well as Krishna legends. Today, we also explore the ancient Khmer civilization site of Hariharalaya which flourished in the late 9th and earlier 10th centuries. These are the earliest temples in the Angkor area and are referred to the Rolous group.
O/N in Siem Reap.
Day 4: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (B/L/)
The river journey begins as we board our express boat and cruise for a half day down the Tonle Sap River to Phnom Penh. The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh was once considered the loveliest city of Indochina. Despite the recent turbulent history, it still maintains a considerable charm. A city tour acquaints us with some major sights of the city. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are now home to the royal family and are therefore closed to the public. At the northern area of the palace grounds is Silver Pagoda, well known for its 5000 silver tiled floor. We visit both structures as well as the National Museum for an appreciation of the splendor of Khmer history. The next stop of our trip is the legendary temple of Wat Phnom, which provides an interesting view over the surroundings.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 5: Phnom Penh - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon - Vietnam) (B/L/)
After breakfast, we drive out to see the Tuol Sleng Museum with its disturbing account of Pol Pot's reign of terror and the notorious ''Killing Fields'' of Choeung Ek. The Indochina journey continues with a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. This metropolis is crowded with bikes and motorbikes, excited by numerous shopping area and sidewalk caf'e. An afternoon city tour takes us in the Reunification Palace which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975. Close to the palace are some beautiful French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Sai Gon Post Office. We also visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Remnant before moving to the bustling Ben Thanh Market where anything and everything is for sale.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi - Ho Chi Minh City (B/L/)
The head quarter of Cao Dai sect is located in Tay Ninh. This religion was founded in 1923 and now numbers over 2 million members. After breakfast we travel by roads to Tay Ninh to see the ornate temple of Cao Dai and attend the fantastic mid-day service when the followers fill the hall wearing colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Afterwards we continue to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which were an incredible underground network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used as a military base for the Vietcong in the American war.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City (B/L/)
Heading out of town we travel by roads to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's largest rice bowl. On arrival in My Tho we embark on a boat navigating around the intricate small canals in the delta region, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle close-up. This thrilling excursion will pass the lush green vegetation before arriving on an island. Here we have opportunities to visit some fascinating local industries, stroll around an orchard and taste many seasonal fruits. After feasting on a huge lunch we return to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off along the way to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Cho Lon, Saigon's Chinatown, which is crammed with fascinating temples and mysterious, narrow lanes.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City - Da Lat (B/L/)
The northbound journey begins as we depart Ho Chi Minh and pass through the many tea and coffee plantations to the hill station of Da Lat, sometimes known as the " City of Eternal Spring". The drive is long but views are fantastic. On arrival we can soak up the cool climate as much as we want by spending our time to wander around and catch our first glimpse of the town. The influence of the French is prevalent since Da Lat was founded as a hill retreat for the colonials to escape the oppressive heat of the coastal plains and the Mekong Delta. This charming town is set around a lake and surrounded by forests, waterfalls and rolling countryside.
Overnight in Da Lat.
Day 9: Da Lat - Nha Trang (B/L/)
After breakfast, we embark on a short drive past the charming pine hill to visit the summer residence of Vietnam's last Emperor Bao Dai, who was forced to abdicate in 1945, shortly after the end of the World War II. We follow this with a trip to the Lam Ty Ni Pagoda and the Hang Nga Guesthouse, well known as the Crazy House because of its bizarre architecture. The central market and the old rail station are also visited this morning before we travel by road through the undulating terrains to the picturesque coastal town of Nha Trang. Along the way we make a stopover at the scenic Ngoan Muc Pass and the Po Klong Jarai Cham Towers. These amazing structures represent an interesting culture and a colorful history of the Cham people.
Overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 10: Nha Trang Beach Relax (B/L/)
The fabulous sunny weather, turquoise water surrounding a string of islands and white sandy beach stretching the whole length of the city making Nha Trang one of Vietnam's premier beach resorts. Today we board a boat for a day trip around the coastal islands, stopping on the way at a local fishing village to observe the island life. Today we also have lots of time on the blue clear water enjoying swimming and snorkeling or lazing on a beach. A seafood lunch is some enjoyment of the trip. We arrive back in town late afternoon and visit the Long Son Pagoda and the impressive Ponagar Cham Towers, which are overlooking the colorful fishing port.
Overnight in NhaTrang.
Day 11: Nha Trang - Da Nang – Hội An Ancient Town (B/L/)
An early morning transfer to airport for a flight to Da Nang. On arrival we are greeted and driven a short distance to Hoi An which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced down centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There are plenty to see in this tranquil and delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 years old Tamky House, the Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant market. We visit these sights on an enchanting walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets, and assembly halls which reflect the town's multi-cultural past.
Overnight in Hội An.
Day 12: Hội An - Hue Citadel (B/L/)
The following destination of our trip is Hue, Vietnam's last imperial capital. Along the way we make stop to visit the sensational Marble Mountains, the China Beach and the Cham Museum in Danang. This interesting structure is home to Vietnam's largest collection of Cham treasures. The winding roads begin as we make our way up the spectacular Hai Van Pass. At the top of the pass we stop to admire a fantastic view north to Lang Co and south to Danang. Arriving in Hue we explore the Imperial Citadel and the Purple Forbidden City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, however it is still fascinating to stroll among the ruins. Afterwards we enjoy a walk to the bustling Dong Ba Market that sells a wide variety of local goods and handicrafts, and pass many fantastic eating spots, all ideal for visitors to sample some local delicacies.
Overnight in Hue.
Day 13: Hue - Hanoi (B/L/)
The beautiful riverside pagoda of Thien Mu which now becomes the symbol of Hue, and the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc are not to be missed. We include these in a half day cruise on the Perfume River which also gives us a taste of the scenic countryside as well as an enjoyable visit to the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang, in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes. After an impressive boat trip we take a walk to the bustling Dong Ba Market that sells a wide variety of local goods and handicrafts. In the evening we board a train for our overnight trip to Hanoi. The train conditions are basic; we travel in 'soft sleeper' class which is a compartment for up to four people. This journey is in keeping with the adventurous nature of our trips and allows you to experience a taste of the 'real Vietnam'.
Overnight on train.
Day 14: Arrival Hanoi (B/L/)
The train journey arrives in Hanoi this morning. The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia 's most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks also make for relaxing atmosphere. After checking into hotel we visit the beautiful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the vibrant Dong Xuan Market, which boasts Vietnam's oldest and largest market. A perfect way to finish the day is to enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the many bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sales at these places.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 15: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B/L/D)
Pick up at 8:00 at your hotel in Hanoi and depart for Halong Bay. Drive about 3 hours through the rice fields in the Red River Delta to Ha Long city. Upon arrival, check in a junk boat for a cruise around Ha Long Bay with delicious seafood lunch served on board.
In the afternoon, cruise on a boat in the crystalline emerald green water of Ha Long bay, among thousands of spectacular limestone islands and islets and discover Surprising Cave, the most beautiful cave in Halong Bay. The boat stops at an ideal location for Sea Kayaking as we paddle through a maze of islets amid dramatic natural scenery. Explore the many hidden lagoons and stalagmite caves that are not so accessible otherwise.
Overnight on junk boat.
Day 16: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B/L/)
In the morning, cruising to Bai Tu long bay, Fire Island, Bo Nau Island, fishing village. Have lunch on boat and arrive at Halong tourist wharf about 11:30. Drive back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 17: Hanoi – Vientiane, Laos (B/L/)
An impressive way of commencing our day is a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake at dawn, where hundreds of people come to do their morning exercise (optional). After breakfast we have free time until transferring to airport for a flight to Vientiane. The charming and fascinating capital of Laos, Vientiane is located on the banks of the Mekong River. This small city conjures up exotic images, with the curious mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French influences. A city tour includes Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. The following sight is the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaew, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We also visit the imposing Patouxai Monument well known as Vientiane's own Arc de Triomphe on our way to the great sacred structure of That Luang Stupa.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 18: Vientiane - Luang Prabang (B/L/)
The royal capital of the former Lane Xang Kingdom, Luang Prabang with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains an unique charm rarely found in all Asia. This morning we take a short flight to Luang Prabang. There is plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the shrine of Wat Aham and Wat Mai with five tiered roofs. We include these sights in a half day guided tour which ends with a climb to Phousi Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the town and the Mekong River. There are 329 steps leading us on zigzag way past various temples to the sacred, gilded stupa of Wat Phousi at the summit.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 19: Luang Prabang - Pakou - Luang Prabang (B/L/)
Today we continue seeing this town with the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. The temple structures are decorated in various ways with gilded stuccoes and doorways while the main sim has a marvellous 'tree life' mosaic pattern on an outer wall. We board a boat for a leisurely trip on the Mekong River, stopping en route at Ban Xang Hai to visit the distillation of local rice wine. Upon leaving this village we wave our wave through the stunning mountain landscape to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. They are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devout villagers. After the river trip we drive towards Ban Phanom and visit the hand weaving.
Overnight in Luang Brabang.
Day 20: Luang Prabang - Vientiane (B/L/)
The exploration of Luang Prabang would not be complete without a visit to the national museum at the former Royal Palace. This interesting structure displays a lovely collection of treasures and artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. We then spend our time wandering through the charming streets until transferring to the airport for a short flight back to Vientiane. On arrival we head out to see the impressive Friendship Bridge which links Laos and Thailand, and the Buddha Park. This landmark represents a blend of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures created by mystical monk on a parkland located by the Mekong River. A perfect way to round off the day is to watch the spectacular sunset over the Mekong River from one of riverside bars.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 21: Vientiane Departure (B/)
Free time for shopping or optional visit before transfer to the airport for flight back home.
End of tour services.
- English or French speaking tour guide, other languages are available on request
- Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver including airport pick up and transfer
- Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = dinner
- Accommodation: twin sharing room or double room
- All entrance fees as indicated sights
- Boat trip in Mekong Delta , Hue, Luang Prabang
- Overnight Junk Boat in Halong Bay – Joined boat
- Train ticket Hue - Hanoi ( soft sleeper class)
- Flight tickets: Phnom penh - Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang - Danang, Hanoi - Vientiane - Luang Prabang
- Express boat Siem Reap - Phnom Penh.
- Other meals not mentioned in the tour program, , airport tax, single room supplement,
- Personal expenses such as tip, drinks, laundry,...
- Travel insurance,
- Visa arrangement (Visa can be arranged on request)
- International flight in/out of Indochina.
This is the quintessential Mekong tour – a fantastically well-organized 21-day romp through Indochina taking in the exotic sights of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Find out more about the glittering culture of these lands, enjoy the fabulous beaches, discover the delicate cuisine and simply bask in the divergence that makes these destinations so alluring.